The children grow up

“I can’t believe you have kids in their thirties,” a precious lady said to me tonight.

I laughed and said yes indeed, I am blessed.

And my mind wanders this evening.

How the babies grow up, make their own lives, and call sometimes. Once in a while, they visit. As life has it, most families are scattered all across the globe and only get together on holidays. Or special events.

I am so thankful this year, that I was able to visit my baby who moved away, and she was able to bring her sweet hubby to be and youngest baby to Florida to meet the rest of the family. I do miss her so much. But we talk. And always have a connection even though we are miles away.

I am thankful that my other little granddaughter who lives with her dad keeps up with me on Instagram. I have not seen her face in three years in person. She left as a little girl and is now a young lady. So fast.

I am thankful for all the rest of my babies who still live in Polk County, and their families, so I cannot complain lol, that I never get to see them. My boys call me often. It is a cool thing to hear their voices and know they still love their mama. And my youngest is up for a tea party, or a nail day, any day. She came running with flowers, groceries and a card a few months ago when I was sick with covid.

Time marches on. And sometimes I wish we just all lived on a large piece of property (wouldn’t that be cool, a homestead), but unless you inherit the farm so to speak, that is sometimes rare.

One of my aunts is a widow. Watching her deal with my uncle’s death has impressed on me the value of your family connections and friendships. She has a rich social life. The one who remembered birthdays. The one who went to Tupperware parties, bought wedding gifts, and always sent me the coolest little things when I was a kid. She loves literature, especially children’s literature. And all things up and bright. Another aunt of mine is likewise joyous. Neither of them live near me. We talk when we can. Or when I can. And I realize that sometimes when we feel like life is speeding by, we are the ones who seem to be moving that hand of the proverbial clock.

My parents each live in other places. Mama dwells in my home state of Indiana. My Dad lives in Florida. Each are aging as gracefully as they can. I think to myself, my goodness where did time go. It is getting away from me. And yet they each chose to live where they do. And have their own lives. I am heavily involved with Mama. Daddy prefers to talk once in a while. He likes to read and watch the news, and when we do talk, he is an expert on all sides of politics. I love my parents and wish I knew when I was younger how valuable the lessons were they imparted to me. Maybe I would have been a more kind and attentive child. Or maybe I was and am not giving myself enough credit.

Time.

I guess that seeing my friend Roslow’s old obit (my former editor at The Polk Sun) who passed away two years ago today, made me think of time and what all I want to do.

And let me not forget my bestie. She has walked through some tough stuff with me. She is the only person who ever met my sister (or rather, my sister’s grave), met my perpetrator (his grave), my great grands and great great grands, and grands (their graves.) She has met all of my family and loved them all. She bought teddy bears, diapers, holiday gifts for my kids’ children. She motivated me to finish college when I felt like giving up. She taught me how to be bold, or rather, how to tap into the inner boldness she said I already had. She helps me consider what others are going through when they are brutally unkind (sometimes life is like that, and that is well, just life, right?) Because of her, I have learned much about life and people, and how just because something does not work out the first time, it might work out at another time.

“It just wasn’t God’s timing,” she says.

She was the one who read the Bible to me when I had a faith crisis. She played Christian music, showed me funny skits with cats and dogs, and in countless ways, showed me and shows me that goodness still exists in this world.

I am so grateful.

No, I am not sad as I write this blog. But making my lists of goals and dreams.

And I am not going to give up on my writing. Sometimes it terrifies me to be transparent with people. Like maybe if I am, they will think I am too much.

Too loud. Too cheery. Too bouncy. Too analytical. Too creative. Too wordy.

So here I end with this thought .. that life is precious, family and friends are everything, and yes, you can aim for and reach the stars if you keep trying.

And if Roslow were here, he would tell me I changed my topic three times and should end with an offer of food. If he wrote it, it would read “and there will be hot dogs.”

Teetering on the edgy of edge

The sunrise was beautiful and jet trails scribbled their journey across the horizon as I haphazardly dumped all my work gear on the driveway to search for my keys.

Seriously?

I have a certain routine, and usually place all of my work stuff in one place, and place my ID badge, keys, belt and work phone all in my “go” bag. And my uniform and shoes are laid out. Lunch is a cinch because I have in mind what I am taking.

But this morning, I woke up and all morning felt like I just could not get one thing right lol.

Couldn’t find just basic stuff. Had my quiet time before work, but this morning I sat in the living room, snuggled with my coffee and stared like a bug eyed squirrel into open space as the sun came up.

Sweetness, the coffee finally kicked in and I thought hey I got this day handled forthwith.

Seize the day, they say. It will be fun, they say.

I dropped things I was holding. (My peanut butter crackers wrapper in the elevator. Thanks to the kind soul who retrieved it for me.)

Have you been there? The one day out of a thousand where it seems like you cannot get it together.

Later in the day, I met a sweet lady who makes teddy bears. She is known as the “teddy bear boss” in her teddy bear making group. How adorable is that? How she chooses to spend her time, helping others.

And all of a sudden, my day got better.

Peppermint.

You might wonder why I chose peppermint candy canes as the photo for this blog today.

Peppermint is a smell that soothes me when my nerves are frazzled. Just being real here. Everyone has a frazzled day or two here and there, and mine was fuzzy indeed.

So I thought the visual of candy canes might do the trick.

Aromatherapy, they say.

Anyway.

My day got a lot better and I thought about various things going through my head. And how there is nothing wrong with hope and positivity, and how healthy that is, even, to pursue such things. How it is good to encourage yourself and believe in yourself and also to believe in God and His power to hold you when you feel like all the crackers are crumbling, even if they really are not.

Side note here. Someone said there was some sort of solar flare or solar storm.

Well there you go.

The keys buried in the bottom of my bag seemed almost relieved to be rescued thereof.

Tomorrow is Tuesday, and I have already decided it shall be a Happy Tuesday. How shall we celebrate just being alive?

Let me know what you do to celebrate your ordinary day tomorrow.

Maybe by all of us sharing a little light, the world will be a brighter place.

Is God Relevant?

“When kids come to our church youth room, they find a place where they can kick back and fellowship, enjoy a soft drink, some snacks, play games and listen to music.”

I was stunned as a large mega-church youth and college leader showed me their enormous youth room. Much larger than the youth rooms I visited elsewhere in my own teen years. (You know, back when dinosaurs walked the earth. Lol.)

Yet the concept was still the same. Keep up with trends .. we are at this blessed place in history. Technology, transportation, fashion, entertainment, even occupations have changed drastically in the last two hundred years.

It has been said that trains of thought have polarized greatly. Many studies and statistics say that while there are a large number of Believers in the United States, not all of them are gathering to fellowship, while pastors and youth leaders wonder why this is occurring, the pandemic beside.

Church attendance and participation in service clubs has wained over the past twenty years, I am told, by those who manage those organizations.

Is God still relevant?

Is He relevant to me? Is He relevant to you?

Relevant .. relatable, necessary.

Surrounded on all sides by a Jesus believing family, I memorized scriptures as a kid.

And I craved a relationship with the Lord. My prayers were full of the God blesses, etc.

The “be with” prayers. Be with those who are suffering. Be with those who have lost their way. Be with those who feel empty and don’t know why.

Why is God Relevant?

It seems that those who believe in God really, really believe, and those who don’t, really, really don’t.

A long time ago, someone told me that trying to win the world by admonishment or accusation would never work.

“But your testimony, your story, no one can dispute. And when they see the light in your eyes, they will know.”

They have seen God. The God of all creation, the Almighty Author, the fantastic Painter of all things beautiful. The Creative Musician Who sings over us as we sleep.

Lord, we seek You. Right here, wherever we are. There is no place on earth where You cannot be found. We love you so much, and seek Your Presence in our lives.

Psalm 104:1-2 (New King James Version) “Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty, Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.”

The Coffeehouse Jesus and Blue Jeans Rock

The chilly drive on the Indianapolis interstate dumped us out in inner city Indy, where my Dad found a parking spot amid spaces covered by hard packed snow outside a storefront coffee house usually frequented by the homeless and those just seeking a touch from God.

Already dark outside, the trunk of the car was almost a welcome sight, as Mama unloaded her guitar, Dad grabbed his bass, and together, they made a second trip for the amplifier and microphone.

Mama was in the house.

The Watch Night service, as it was called in those days, started around 7 o’clock, with supper around 8.

As congregants waited for the midnight hour, to pray in the New Year, one person or group after another would bring special music, share testimony, or pray.

Dressed in my blue corduroy jumper dress and tights with a striped turtleneck, I wrapped my winter coat a little tighter because it seemed to be colder at times.

Then it was our turn to sing.

Shedding the long coat, I followed my parents to the front of the room, surrounded by maybe thirty people, seated on barrels and metal folding chairs, drinking coffee and leaning on wagon wheel tables.

This was my first time singing with Mama and Daddy, and I was so nervous.

“Throw Out the Lifeline,” was the song we sang. My voice was sometimes strong, yet I struggled.

Applause and cheers loudly followed and I found my eight-year-old self questioning whether my “performance” warranted that.

Hours stretched on, with songs and hymns, and bursts of encouragement, and soon the midnight hour was upon us, where we prayed in the New Year, asking God for His blessing.

Jesus met us in the worn down coffeehouse, a Haven for the searching, comfort for the weary, light and warmth for the distressed.

I often wonder what Jesus would look like if He came to us now? Would He have long hair and ride a skateboard? “Hit me up on Facebook,” He might say. “Send me a text, day or night, I mean it. I am here for you.”

I like to think that He would be as relevant and approachable to us now as He was then, even though “our God dwells in inexplicable light.”

A lifetime has passed since that night.

I went on to join an adult church choir at nine years old and continued singing in some form or fashion even to my life now.

The performance has changed to worship and seeking that familiar Presence, Who moved with grace among the group who sought, some with tears in their eyes, their Savior.

I am so grateful for His love. He sees past all my shortcomings. He holds me when I can’t see my way. He gives me a hand through difficult days. He scatters His glory across the sky to show me there is hope, yes, in this life and beyond.

Selah.

Lord, You are our hope, and we love You so much.

Let brighter thoughts prevail

It is end September and Florida is still hot and humid, but then again that fresh ocean air that sweeps over the state is so worth it.

I found myself asking a coworker what her beauty secret was for keeping her hair straight even though she has curly hair. She shared the product and combing technique she uses and yes, I went to the store today and totally forgot to pick up the product.

Some days are like that. If I don’t put it on my list, I may or may not remember it.

Yet a train of thought flew through my mind of how sometimes I complain about little silly stuff, like the weather, or traffic (well if people would use their blinkers, be considerate and kind, that would be a non-issue), or congestion at the grocery store.

And I thought to myself, self, why do you complain about such things?

How about be thankful for the changing weather, or the fact I have a car, or that I have access to grocery stores and can get most things I need?

And then.

My how the dust has gathered in my bedroom, which presently looks like a book and greeting card hoarder lives here. (Maybe I am exaggerating a little bit.)

I figured out why I have so many books, besides being bookish and loving to read and actually consume a book, curling up with coffee and tenderly turning the pages, and the feeling you get as you read page by page and get lost for a few hours in the land of who knows where or what is this new project I can do .. it is because as a kid I had no siblings and books entertained me for hours. But as a fast reader, I ran out of reading material quickly.

To me, the closest thing to an earthly hell would be a house without books to read, notebooks or journals, pens to write with .. devoid of card sending or letter writing materials.

When I finished reading my books, I read cereal boxes, and then some of my mom’s nursing books for school, and our encyclopedia set.

I know someone, somewhere is saying hello .. with the internet you now have a treasure trove to choose from to satisfy your literary longings.

Self help books are cool. I love non-fiction, as well as fiction set in England or New York.

But the room is dusty.

Slowly, I am simplifying, with a goal that I can come in here and just breathe.

I am sure you are thrilled with the idea of house cleaning (for real?), but to me it is part of making a home, and making a day great, or splendid.

Someone has to polish the teapots of the world and set the table for a brand new day.

My cat Molly Moo sends her regards. As do Peebs, Winter Moo, and Oreo. I still wonder what she would look like in a cat dress, posed next to a teacup.

Peebs, a calico cat with great curiosity, and Molly Moo affectionately study the camera and wonder if treats are next.

Ah, the fancy minds of writers.

A desk awaits

A notebook and pen tucked into my daily work bag, my first book, The Brighter Side of A Darker Thing started as a journal of my past and noted my history, penned at the time strictly for my own healing from our family’s dark secret.

Slowly, I crept out of the dark place, sharing my story with friends, at first, and other survivors, who urged me to use my gift of writing to reach others because they said that they were not able to do so for various reasons.

And I respect that. They wanted me to be a light bearer, they said.

I am a survivor. I did not wake up one day and say well hey I am healed from the abuse (intimate) I suffered from age 7 to about 12.

Once in a while, someone says they had a sudden epiphany and poof, they have no more issues with suppressed memories, painful thoughts of low self esteem, panic, inner non-positive dialogue, etc.

Many survivors of sexual abuse turn to drugs or alcohol. Some self harm. Others seek to change everything about their environment or themselves that is a reminder of abusive events.

I sought counseling while addressing my past many years ago, and it was the best thing for me. I did not have a substance abuse issue as even aspirin makes me sick to my stomach, so that was not appealing to me. I wrestled with my existence. Why did God make me, and why did I feel like a freak?

I feel so strong now, compared to where I used to be.

What does strong look like to me?

Well if I am a survivor, I don’t have to do or be anything great to be extraordinary. I made it “through” and am walking on firm ground. I didn’t always think this way. Constantly trying to win approval can get exhausting as you will never make everyone happy.

That said, I love to be the best person I can be. Sometimes I fail. I have learned that one of my challenges is to remember everyone makes mistakes. But it is how I handle that – which determines my inner peace and the outflow of blessing I can be to others.

What mistakes am I referring to? Personally? Not being selfish here, but one mistake was not valuing myself as a human being.

I have as much right to be on this planet as anyone else. And because I believe God made me, I know He has work for me to do.

Yet the telling has been difficult at times.

My eye doc told me I have a type A personality. I was flabbergasted!

(Smile) Big 😁

That was news to me lol!

You see some believe that being bossy is problematic, but is sharing my story bossy?

I think it would be if I were to say ok the only way you can handle etc. is to stand on your head, figuratively. (No this is not a reference to yoga, lol. I wish I could stand on my head, but sadly, I am not that coordinated.)

So that feeling of my type A being too much for others at time has been a bit of a buffer to my desire to continue getting my story out there.

Anyway.

Finished writing this in downtown Winter Haven. A lizard was watching me, and a turtle in a gated nature garden slowly crept along.

Will get back at the blogging. A little each day.

Who says?

How many people give up a hobby because someone says they are not good at it? And how many have persisted because one soul encouraged them to keep on going?

I was astounded several years ago when I spent five hours reworking a structured painting, ending up with an abstract by the end of the evening.

Having several writer, author, artist types on my friends list, one of the creatives spoke up and offered to screen print my creation onto a Tshirt to sell in his shop and divide the proceeds.

At the time I was in journalism, and though most writers have a side hustle of some sort, I opted not to take him up on the offer. A marketing decision it was, as I was working on my book and trying to get that finished.

Some time later I interviewed an actual artist. Pretty cool, as he taught middle school children how to rework their paintings for “art” effect.

The kids were mortified and protested greatly as they had one idea, carefully painting that. There were nature scenes, family pics, weird creatures and more.

So he instructed the children to blindfold themselves (teachers, Paras, and guests present) and then turn their painting upside down and use a different brush in different paint, making haphazard designs.

“Now you have art,” he said.

I guess the type A side of me cringed as I saw this, as all of a sudden, their paintings took on a different life.

Some of the kids were mad, others were laughing, still others were like “oh cool!”

Today’s painting is an abstract. It started out as an ocean scene, then I painted over that and it all became lavender with a olive green heart tilted to the side.

Frustrated that it looked like a nothing canvas, I then sloshed yellow paint across it in the middle, mixed with white.

Then remembering a little art trick we did in school, took a Q tip and scratched a flower and pot design in the paint while it was still wet.

Happy flowers. Happy happy flowers.

Anyway.

One thing I have learned from artists is that art is your expression. Yes, I would love to paint something that resembles something factual.

And I may again paint coffee cups for fun. Or other little items. Or rocks. Or my old jewelry box that has junk jewelry. Or a wooden spoon. Or.

Here is to exploring your creative side.

Molly sends her regards. The splendid housecat approves this project.

Sparkle just because

As long as I can remember, the light and shine of glitter, sequins, and foil star stickers has given me hope.

For me, it goes to that “Let there be light” that God said in the beginning of time.

Tonight, am keeping this short as I want to see the opening Olympic ceremonies.

What makes your heart light?

Share that with someone.

Maybe if we all let our “sparkle” sparkle it will brighten someone’s day.

Dream a little dream

Or not.

Dream a big dream.

Dream something exquisite, creative, kind, beautiful.

Once in a while, I sort of evaluate the status of my goals in life.

Where am I and where do I want to be?

Back in journalism days, I recall meeting city planners with all their maps of this and that, where new businesses would locate, the future home of thus and so and so forth.

So when I think about a dream, it seems to me a plan is in order, because it also seems that a dream without a plan is fruitless.

Like shopping without a list and purpose could get expensive, I think of the many dreams I could put on paper and how they must be written down or they may not happen.

Here are a few of my dreams:

To stay open for God to use me as He sees fit in His church.

To spoil my parents because that is what they deserve.

To make blankets and art for my children and grandchildren. To make sure they know I love them always.

To take many trips with my bestie.

To finish writing my fiction book, if for nothing else, to entertain my grandchildren.

To write a non-fiction sequel to my first book. And maybe someday get a YouTube channel going. Will see.

To get a selfie near a sunflower field with sunflowers taller than me.

To visit a winery and do grape stomping with my feet.

To really learn to play the piano well, as well as get another guitar and learn to play it well and write songs. There is a smaller guitar at a local music shop that I have had my eye on for a very long while. I feel like it will be mine one day for sure. (Save and plan lol.)

To write something of substance that would bring peace to the world.

And more dreams than I can write here.

Steady moves reach the goal

Sporting a migraine is a great way to end the day, and suddenly I remember another Facebook post that someone else wrote .. “focus on your blessings and not on your complaints.”

Had the day off today as I work this weekend, and since the bestie was free, we checked out a few thrift shops, had lunch, went to the grocery and then swimming, where she went after a wasp nest full force with a bottle of spray. I was in awe of her bravery lol.

Presently, outside, the crickets are happy, or at least that is what I imagine as they chirp their evening pre-storm chorus.

You know what they say, in Florida, if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.

So, goals.

I find every time I have a day off, I have a pile of things I would like to do, because sure it is great to relax but also to keep up with life .. because that is what you do.

Or I do.

Or I try, that is.

The matter of the day was cleaning my room.

Imagine what a creative writer’s room looks like, or abode, or cave or whatever and you realize just how daunting a task that really is.

But this year, since reading Gretchen Ruben and her words on being Happier At Home, and taking in a few happy cleaning-organizing shows, I feel as if I really need to get my room organized to be happy.

Large exclamation point.

!

Seriously, though, it is not like it is trashy, as I empty the small waste basket every day, and dirty clothes go in the laundry hamper (which at present moment, the wicker hamper is being shredded by the newest housecat, Peebs, just for fun), and junk mail gets tossed and so forth.

But as I look around, I see piles of books, craft projects, art projects, sentimental and historical family gifts and momentos, thirty or so baskets (I collect them and as such, they multiply, and I am paring them back, slowly, painfully), bags of makeup (yes I am high maintenance but I try to maintain myself ha ha), shoes of various kinds, a few paintings here and there and more bottles of perfume than I would like to admit.

As you can see by the photo above, an ordinary cell phone snap shot of one of my baby blankets I am creating, this photo is one I shot .. am trying to get to the point where even if I take a still shot for my blog, at least it is mine and not from the free media library that comes with my subscription. And probably a more appropriate photo for this blog would be the pic of my messy room. Will have to tidy it more to get that shot I am sure.

My room. The mess. Yes. This afternoon dove into it and went through all my closet clothing and pulled out garments I don’t like any more, that are outdated or don’t fit, or are not useful. I was surprised to see that I actually have things to wear! Amazing! Like opening Christmas presents indeed.

Pulled out all broken or flimsy hangers and replaced them with the good ones.

Cleaned off one part of my dresser and hoisted my mother’s Japanese jewelry box (it has no jewelry in it) to the top novelty shelf.) It does not really fit my decor down low, but up high it almost looks like a mystery.

Weird.

Now having new room in my closet to hang more clothes, moved the clothes I hanged on both doors to the inside of the closet, and now I can see my long, hand painted tin sign with the motivational saying “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” It hangs on the door and is perfectly artsy there.

I believe that with my tan walls, I will eventually move back to a black accent decor (I have a few different comforter sets that I switch out occasionally, also weird, but I guess I take after my Mama, who does the same thing.)

Slowly I am moving toward a more almost minimalist room. I say almost, because I am not sure I will be for example, that person who lives with nothing on their walls.

Admittedly, even with the little I have done, I feel I can breathe again.

Recently, I visited my oldest daughter’s home in Virginia, and what she and her beloved have done with their home is gorgeous. Fresh paint, no clutter, organized rooms, touches of light decorating .. I thought to myself, that is what I want.

Light and clean, airy, simple, creative and beautiful.

Maybe tomorrow I will uncover another few inches of my dresser.

Or maybe I will organize my makeup.

We’ll see.

I feel accomplished, and happy.